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Australia's Argonauts : The remarkable story of the first class to enter the Royal Australian Naval College - Peter Jones

Australia's Argonauts

The remarkable story of the first class to enter the Royal Australian Naval College

Hardcover Published: 14th September 2016
ISBN: 9780994624604
Number Of Pages: 788

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The story of the first cadet-midshipmen to join the Royal Australian Naval College is without parallel.

In 1913 twenty-eight thirteen-year-old boys joined the new Navy at a time when Australia was both idealistic and ambitious. The boys were drawn from every State and became known as the 'Pioneer Class'.

Australia's Argonauts is the result of many years' research. It brings together previously unpublished diaries, letters, archival material and photographs. The Pioneer Class bore witness to or were leading actors in the most important events in the Navy's early history. The most famous member was John Collins, hero of the Sydney-Bartolomeo Colleoni action, who became the first Naval College graduate to be Chief of Naval Staff. The class also included Rupert Long who played a pivotal role in Naval intelligence, Eric Feldt who ran the famous 'Coastwatchers' and Peyton Kimlin who wrote the score for one of Australia's first ballet. But like the Argonauts of legend, they faced travails that sometimes consumed them.

The book charts the lives of the Pioneer Class from their first days at the Naval College, service with the Grand Fleet in World War I, naval and civilian careers between the wars, their great contribution during World War II and their passing into our history.

The Pioneer Class were not only the first, but the greatest class to graduate from the Naval College.

About the Author

Peter Jones joined the Royal Australian Naval College as a 16 year old cadet midshipman. He served in the RAN for 40 years and retired as a vice admiral. His sea service included the command of the frigate HMAS Melbourne and later command of the multinational Maritime Interception Force during the 2003 Iraq War for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the US Legion of Merit.

Peter is an Adjunct Professor and a member of the Naval Studies Group at the University of the New South Wales campus at the Australian Defence Force Academy. He is also President of the Australian Naval Institute. This is his first book.

Industry Reviews

'unrelenting research ... It is much more than a chronicle of the 1913 Entry, this is a window on the nation at war, societal attitudes and practises of our nation from the early days of Federation. Not only for old and young salts but also the nation's readers at large.' - Vice Admiral Ian MacDougall AC, AFSM RAN (Retired), Chief of Naval Staff (1991-1994).

'Although they graduated a century ago, I feel a personal connection with the first class to enter the RAN College. My first commanding officer had been trained at sea during the Second World War by members of the pioneer year and I suspect some of their enduring influence shaped my own entry's formative experiences. Peter Jones has not only captured the spirit animating that remarkable group of naval officers, he has helped scholars and students to understand why they were so revered and how they transformed the RAN from a remote Dominion squadron into a medium-sized naval force with it own distinctive ethos. This thoroughly engaging and deeply moving work is marked by painstaking research, nuanced analysis and sensitive handling of both brutalising events and human frailty. It will become a classic text in the RAN’s evolving history.' - Professor Tom Frame, author of Where Fate Calls and a member of RANC Junior Entry 1979.

'With Australia's Argonauts, Peter Jones has opened a window into our past that for too long was closed and shuttered. This is not just a story of remarkable Australians. Nor is it simply a story of the Australian Navy during its years of endurance. This is a story of what Australia was, what it wanted to be and what it became as the twentieth century advanced. Australia's Argonauts shows how the members of the first entry to the Royal Australian Naval College profoundly influenced our national life. The unique experiment that began at Osborne House in 1913 paid dividends for the nation unimaginable at the time. Their ideas and their actions played a critical part in defending Australia during its darkest hours, but they also contributed to the arts, to technology and to business, to education and to the wider community in a host of ways. From battle at sea to ballet, Australia's Argonauts spans Australia’s history and national experience. It is a fascinating book.' - Rear Admiral James Goldrick, author of Before Jutland.

'Australia’s Argonauts makes an important contribution to our national and naval knowledge. I have no doubt that those who read it will better appreciate the contribution of 28 Australians, who lived out their lives against the backdrop of some of the most tumultuous times in our history. Not all achieved lasting fame, but their collective deeds, in no small measure built the national society that we continue to enjoy.' - Dr David Stevens, author of In All Respects Ready & winner of the 2015 Frank Broeze Memorial Maritime History Book Prize

'Australia’s Argonauts, although more than 640 pages long, is well written and a pleasure to read. The 150 photographs accompanying the text provide a window into these people’s lives. It is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in Australian history and a must for those who are looking for a modern approach to Australian naval history.' - Dr Greg Gilbert, The Australian Naval Institute

'This is a gracious book, as befits an elegant and gracious Admiral and teacher, who led his crews at sea and ashore with quiet confidence and conviction. An ‘Admiral-by-accident’ for, if things had worked out differently, Peter would have been an Architect! A great loss for Navy if he had done so. Jones’ passion for design and thinking, and his compassion for Navy nevertheless comes out in his (and Tony Grazebrook’s) story of the First Argonauts and of Australia in the 20th Century. It says much of Jones that he also contributed to this story and to Navy in his own time. For the spirit lives on and nowhere is this more important than today as we redesign and reshape Navy for the 21st and 22nd Centuries.' - The Navy Magazine

ISBN: 9780994624604
ISBN-10: 0994624603
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 788
Published: 14th September 2016
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 4.14
Weight (kg): 1.2

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